By Ashley Jost
Jefferson City, Mo. — Ryan Burke has two top-priority passions: politics and soccer.
Burke currently is the Legislative Assistant for Rep. Vicki Englund, D-94, but has worked in multiple capacities throughout the Capitol since he transferred to University of Missouri – Columbia during 2006.
Burke said his Missouri political experience started when he volunteered and then interned for Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-113, during 2006. The following year, Burke went on to work as Roorda’s Legislative Assistant, taking a semester off from school.
“After that, I went back to school and worked part time as a director of a soccer group,” Burke said. “I always had two clear paths, soccer and politics.”
Burke previously transferred to the University of Missouri – Columbia from University of Wisconsin – Green Bay after injuries and surgeries required him to quit playing NCAA Division one soccer within the Horizon League. Through his management position of the children’s soccer league, he said he was able to keep pursuing that that athletic passion in a new capacity.
“I love working with kids,” Burke said. “What kids can learn from team sports — confidence they can gain from a skill, ability to work in a team structure — it’s something you can’t learn in school.”
Post-graduation, Burke continued with the soccer group while working for then representative, Sen. Jason Holsman, D-7. During his time with Holsman, Burke said he had the chance to work with the Special Standing Committee to fix the renewable energy standard, which proved to be one of his more memorable political experiences so far.
During the 2012 election, Burke worked on six campaigns, five of which were successful, including representatives Englund, Roorda, Michael Frame, D-111, Genise Montecillo, D-92, TJ McKenna, D-114, and district 115 hopeful, Rich McCanes. After the election, Burke said he was job hunting and Englund was in need of a Legislative Assistant, and they found each other to be a good working match.
One of Burke’s favorite things about working for Englund is that since he grew up inside of her district, he’s able to provide constituents with contacts at the local, county and state levels when they call with concerns.
“I love being able to help a constituent with their issues,” Burke said, highlighting his favorite parts of the job. “I also love being on the floor on the side gallery watching a good debate that’s helping the body gain a better knowledge on a certain issue.”
Burke’s motivation for pursuing his political science degree, and a career in politics?
“It was one of the things I was just really good at,” he joked.
Burke also attributes his interest to his older sister, Meghann, an attorney in North Carolina, who he said has always been an influence on his passion for politics.
“My older sister is my idol,” he said. “We talk on a daily basis about different political issues, since we both love it.”
Additionally, Burke said some of other heroes include Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon, because both are “true moderates that are working to move Missouri forward.”